NVT sorghum performance report

Author: | Date: 13 Aug 2019

Take home messages

  • Sorghum is the first summer crop in the annual National Variety Trials database
  • Results across NSW and Queensland will assist growers select hybrids best suited to their requirements
  • It must be emphasized that the NVT sorghum results are from only two seasons and should be taken in context to the seasons experienced
  • When assessing a sorghum hybrid’s performance, it is imperative to consider the seasonal effects.

A mainstay in many northern farming systems, Australian grain sorghum is predominantly used as poultry and pig feed, as a feedstock for biofuel production and in China to produce baijiu (sorghum wine). With an average area of 650,000 hectares and production of 1.89 million tonnes, sorghum is Australia’s fifth-largest crop overall and largest summer crop.

Following extensive consultation with growers and industry, sorghum in 2017 became the first summer crop to join the National Variety Trial program.  The trialing program encompasses the following regions; Central Queensland, Southern Queensland, Northern New South Wales and the Liverpool Plains.

Following the success of the 2017-18 trials, GRDC last year invested in a further three years extending the NVT sorghum program to 2021.

Breeding companies were invited to submit hybrids for inclusion in the sorghum NVT project that they felt were suitable for the environments under evaluation. In the 2018-19 season, A total of 30  commercial and advanced pre-commercial hybrids from Advanta (Pacific) Seeds, Elders, Heritage Seeds, Nuseed, Pioneer Seeds, SV Genetics Pty Ltd and Radicle Seeds have been evaluated.  This is up from the 24 varieties tested in the initial season.

The climatic conditions experienced leading up to and during the growing periods varied greatly between and within the four trialling regions. The 2017/18 season began with variable rainfall which required some sites to be relocated and caused others to struggle, however 19 of the proposed 21 sites were established. Cold conditions soon after sowing slowed growth but temperatures increased to well above average in late December and January. The 2018/19 season proved challenging to find suitable trial sites, nonetheless, 19 of the proposed 23 sites were established. Some sites experienced average to good in-crop rainfall while others were drought stressed (some terminal), suffered hail damage or were compromised due to uneven run-off from high-intensity storms.

Each trial underwent a rigorous auditing schedule to determine suitability on agronomic criteria for inclusion. The analysis and interpretation of these trial results deemed suitable for inclusion were managed by the GRDC’s Statistics for Australian Grains Industry (SAGI), a world class project team who employed a world class statistical package to apply further rigour to ensure a robust dataset. Of the 19 trials planted in 2017/18, 15 were deemed suitable to be included and of the 19 trials established in 2018/19, 11 sites have been deemed suitable and fulfilled the NVT testing program criteria for the analysis.

The results for the NVT sorghum trials can be obtained from NVT Online and will also be published in the 2019 Hybrid Sorghum Performance Report on the GRDC website.


The research undertaken as part of this project is made possible by the significant contributions of growers through both trial cooperation and the support of the GRDC, the author would like to thank them for their continued support.

Acknowledgment of the Trial Service Providers:

1.     KALYX: Denis Harvey, Nathan Eulenstein and team
2.     NSW DPI: Loretta Serafin and team
3.     Eurofins: Peter Warner, Vikram Ahlawat and team.

Contact details

Laurie Fitzgerald
Grains Research Development Corporation
214 Herries St, Toowoomba, QLD 4350
Mb: 0455 957 712
Email: laurie.fitzgerald@grdc.com.au

GRDC Project Code: EAS1808-001SAX, DAN1809-001 SAX, KAL1809-001SAX,